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16 - 20 : 52 Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality

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#16: Hold a Trans Pride event in your community

Wouldn’t it be great to have an event in your community to celebrate our pride in being transgender? If your community has an event like this, attend and support it. If not, organize one! It can be large or small, complex or simple—plan an event that makes sense for your community. But no matter what the logistics are, plan an event that gives people an opportunity to celebrate who we are as transgender people.

Some things you might want to consider: holding workshops on topics our community needs to hear about—from legal rights to fashion; showcasing trans entertainers and artists; having a speaker who can set a positive and exciting tone; food and fun. Plan to include a diverse group of people in the organizing process so that your event truly represents the local community.

These events can be an important time to encourage and challenge each other to be the best community we can be. San Diego just held their Trans Day of Empowerment and Masen Davis, NCTE Board Member and co-founder of FTM Alliance of Los Angeles, delivered the keynote address. In his remarks, he said,

“I believe that change is not just possible—it is inevitable. I believe that the challenges that face our community today can become extinct. That if we can believe in a world where trans people are fully embraced; where we have access to quality, culturally competent healthcare; where we have quality education and gainful employment; where all trans people, regardless of ethnicity, age or sex, can be whole people with full lives … then we can begin to create that very world.

“You see, we as transgender people are experts at creating something out of a mere belief! We believed we were different, that we could be something beyond what others could see or understand; and we became what we knew to be true and right for us. If we can do that for ourselves, then we can do that for our world.

“I’m not saying that this will be easy. We are still at the beginning of a long trek to equality. But if we can believe in the possibility—and the inevitability—of a better world for transgender people, then we can begin to create a better future for all of us.”

Hold an event in your community to show the world, and each other, that we are proud to be trans and that we can and will change the world.

#17: March as a trans contingent in the Gay Pride Parade

June is the month when many communities hold LGBT pride events, marking the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City when trans and gay people stood up to the police in 1968. While certainly not the first queer resistance to police harassment, the Stonewall Riots helped spread the message of liberation and galvanized people around the world to say no to oppression.

Consider organizing a trans contingent to participate in Pride. While trans people come in all sexual orientations, this is another opportunity to show that we are a visible and proud part of all of our communities, including the LGBT community. Think about what message you want to give to the crowd—what do you want people to understand about who we are? Then create a float, a walking contingent or other display to get that message across.

Albuquerque Pride co-coordinator, and ally of our community, Pat Baillie comments, “We have a strong transgender contingent every year in the parade and booths for FTM and MTF information sponsored by local transgender groups who are out and proud. This year we will honor one of our transgender activists as our Honored Dignitary—Political, Virginia Stephenson. Her political activism and work for transgender rights are key reasons why New Mexico has equal anti-discrimination and hate crime protections under the law for both sexual orientation and gender identity. This year we will also dedicate a memorial where our first Pride events were held and we proudly add the "T" in our GLBT community to honor those who have come out and made our world a more diverse and inclusive place.”

Congratulations to Virginia, who is a member of NCTE’s Board of Advisors and a founding NCTE member. More information on her award can be found at Albuquerque Pride.

You can find Pride events in your area, plus additional resources, on the Interpride website.

#18: Educate a local homeless shelter about how to be trans inclusive

Homeless shelters can be very challenging places for those who need them; this is especially true for transgender people. Most shelters are gender segregated and many do not have policies that deal with issues of gender identity and expression. Yet studies have shown that as many as 1 in 5 transgender people may need the assistance of a shelter, due to our community’s high level of under- or unemployment and the disruption of networks of family and friends.

Helping a shelter develop trans-inclusive and supportive policies could be one of the most important actions we take. It will certainly help preserve the dignity and well-being of a trans person and it may even save a life by ensuring access to a safe shelter environment.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless issued a resource last year called Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People. The report, authored by NCTE Board of Advisor’s steering committee member Lisa Mottet and John Ohle, includes very specific information about how to work with shelters to change policies and make shelters respectful and safe places for all people. It has been used by shelters across the country that provide services for the homeless and for those displaced by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.

The report says, “The bottom line is that transgender people should be treated with respect. Their freedom to define themselves through self-identification and expression should be honored in every way, including in the language that staff use to refer to them as well as with their housing, bathroom, and shower placement . . . The clear consequences of a rule that makes surgery the dividing line between who gets gender-appropriate shelter and who does not means that most transgender people will never get gender-appropriate shelter and treatment. Knowing how important it is for the emotional and physical safety of transgender people to have their gender identities respected, treating people according to the gender they self-identify—the policy of respect—is the only humane option.”

You can download a free copy of this important resource at http://srlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/TransitioningOurShelters.pdf

You can also get more information about homelessness and the trans community on our website by clicking here.

Work with your local shelter to ensure that it is a place where trans people find safety and respect when they need its services.

#19: Pass a non-discrimination ordinance in your community

Communities across the country have been passing laws which protect people from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Anti-discrimination legislation can include housing, employment, public accommodation and more. Both large and small municipalities have passed these laws; in recent months, states like Vermont and Hawaii, cities such as Bloomington, Indiana and smaller towns like the Borough of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania have all passed measures to ban discrimination.

If your area doesn’t have an anti-discrimination law that includes gender identity and expression, work to pass one. It is important to have language that will work legally, so contact the Transgender Civil Rights Project at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to get more information about legislation and further assistance.

“In the past five years we’ve gone from 5% of the country to over 30% of the country covered by trans-inclusive laws directly through the efforts of grassroots activists,” notes Lisa Mottet of the Transgender Civil Rights Project. “It is easier than people think, even for people with no previous political experience. We can provide you with all of the tools you need, whether you are just starting the effort or are well on your way to finishing the process. We encourage you to contact us and we can provide you with assistance through the whole process.”

You can contact the National Center for Transgender Equality by calling 202-903-0112. 

Enacting legal protections for transgender people is an important step towards transgender equality. Work in your community to pass to trans-inclusive legislation today.

#20: Visit the offices of your congressional representative and educate them about trans issues

Today, transgender activists are gathered in Washington for NCTE’s annual Lobby Days and will have more than 30 meetings with members of Congress and their staff. Educating Congress about the issues faced by transgender people and the need for federal legislation to protect our rights is critical to our movement. Every year, NCTE organizes a day for transgender and gender non-conforming people to educate our elected representatives in Washington, DC, along with a day of training for every participant. People have gathered from as far away as states like California and Ohio as well as from the region surrounding our nation’s capital.

You, too, can educate Congress. It is important that they hear from you and other transgender constituents and allies who live and work in the area they represent. Members of Congress have offices both in their home districts as well as here in Washington and you can visit either one.

A complete resource guide, Making Your Voice Heard: A Transgender Guide to Educating Congress, is available to download on our website at Making Your Voice Heard. This resource gives you everything you need to know from how to make an appointment, to the meeting itself, to following up afterwards. It includes practical tips on issues like what to wear, who to bring and how to prepare. Call your Senators and Representative today to set up an appointment. If you aren’t sure who they are, follow this link and enter your zip code at the bottom of the page to find out.

Edy Vee, who has come from Nevada to meet with her representatives today, says she is doing it because, “I feel we are turning an important corner for TG legislation.” We believe she is absolutely right and that the work of activists around the country, people like you, is making the difference.


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